“Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason
for your hope, but do it
with gentleness and reverence.”
1 Peter 3:15–16
The Master of Theological Studies for the New Evangelization is an academic degree to equip laypersons and others to fulfill the call of Vatican II: to bring the beauty of the Gospel to the fields of work, culture, and family.
During his landmark visit to Poland in 1979, Pope Saint John Paul II proclaimed, “A new evangelization has begun.” The pontiff’s words, rooted in the Second Vatican Council’s renewed emphasis on the work of evangelization, would echo and reecho in years to come, leading Pope Benedict XVI to declare in 2013 a “Year of Faith” focusing on the “New Evangelization”—an outreach to baptized Catholics who have fallen away from the faith and a heightened commitment to proclaiming the beauty of the gospel to an increasingly secularized world.
In response to the calls of recent popes to engage in the work of the new evangelization, the MTS Program at Saint John’s Seminary offers laypeople, deacons, and religious the opportunity to pursue a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree with a concentration on this important apostolate.
The MTS relies upon the four pillars of formation (academic, human, spiritual, and apostolic) that Saint John’s Seminary provides to seminarians, and offers these to laypeople, deacons, and religious.
Academic Formation—11 core courses and 2 electives
Human Formation—Formation Colloquium and Evangelizing the Culture Requirement
Upon graduation from the Master of Theological Studies, the student will have achieved the following objectives:
- All students will understand the fundamentals of the Catholic faith and church history.
- All students will demonstrate an understanding of the relationship of theology to philosophy and culture.
- All students will develop skills in evangelization.
- All students will demonstrate competence in advanced academic research.
As is typical of an MTS degree, the Master of Theological Studies for the New Evangelization is an academic degree designed to expose students to the broad contours of Catholic theology while enabling them to focus on a particular topic that is of interest to them. This degree is ideal for men and women working in other professions who seek to augment their primary skillset with a grounding in theology so as to more effectively evangelize the fields of culture, work, politics, and family. It might also serve as a stepping stone to doctoral studies or as a means of preparation for persons interested in working in Catholic educational institutions, diocesan offices, or nonprofit organizations.
The MTS, unlike the MAM degree, does not prepare men and women for pastoral ministry in the Church. However, like the MAM degree, the MTS for the New Evangelization seeks to provide students with a well-rounded, “whole person” Catholic formation in the intellectual, apostolic, spiritual, and human spheres. Indeed, this is what makes Saint John's Seminary MTS degree unique among other MTS programs. The work of evangelization is not simply a matter of engaging the intellect; hence the need for men and women who undertake this work to be prayerful, balanced, and capable of engaging the heart as well as the head. A contemporary evangelizer must be equally dedicated to both halves of the injunction which is set forth in 1 Peter 3:15–16: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.”
Spiritual formation for MTS students takes place through retreats, individual spiritual direction, communal prayer, and exposure to classic Catholic spirituality. Participation in the Evangelizing the Culture requirement, through which students undertake some form of internship in a Catholic institution to develop the practical skills of evangelization, promotes apostolic formation. Human formation takes place through workshops and exposure to sound psychological principles that promote greater maturity, prudence, and capacity for self-gift.
The academic program of the Master of Theological Studies for the New Evangelization provides a comprehensive exploration of the truths of the Catholic faith. In addition to the Formation Colloquium, the MTS degree requires thirteen courses—comprised of eleven core courses and two electives. Philosophy, Scripture, the Church Fathers, and Saint Thomas Aquinas will serve as touchstones throughout the sequence of MTS courses. An MTS student can complete the degree in two years if he or she attends full-time.
A student may also fulfill the degree requirements over a longer period of time, attending courses part-time. However, the Master of Theological Studies degree must be completed within ten years of acceptance into the degree program.
The required courses for the MTS program are listed below. All MTS students meet with the Saint John's Seminary academic advisor, Dr. Anthony Coleman, to determine the actual order and sequence of course completion, which ensures that students fulfill the intellectual expectations of the MTS Program.
A typical full-time MTS schedule would appear as follows:
Year One- Fall Semester
TH500 Fundamental Theology
OT500 Old Testament
PH500 Faith and Reason
FC100 Formation Colloquium
Year Two- Fall Semester
MT500 Moral Theology
THPT500 New Evangelization/Pastoral Theology
FC300 Formation Colloquium
Year One- Spring Semester
NT500 New Testament
CH500 Church History
FC200 Formation Colloquium
Year Two- Spring Semester
ST500 Liturgy and Sacraments
TH514 Theological Anthropology
FC400 Formation Colloquium
The keystone of the MTS formation program is the monthly Formation Colloquium. The multifaceted constitution of the colloquium seeks to integrate the four dimensions of formation and exposes students to a wide range of theological, philosophical, literary, artistic, psychological, and apostolic concepts through reading, discussion, and lecture. The Formation Colloquium meets nine times each year for two years. Students who are interested in the Formation Colloquium but are not part of the MTS program may register for either or both years of the colloquium. Saint John’s Seminary, however, does not permit students to audit the colloquium.